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By Ashton Zimmerman
Cleaning our homes would take a lot more effort without one appliance: the vacuum cleaner. The world’s first and only vacuum cleaner museum in St. James gives vacuums the honor they deserve. More than six hundred vacuum cleaners make up this collection, with up to two hundred typically on display.
Tom Gasko, the curator of the Vacuum Cleaner Museum and Factory Outlet, has had an interest in machines and vacuum cleaners since he was a child. But vacuums aren’t a symbol of just Tom’s younger years. They're a symbol of childhood nostalgia for everyone.
“People point out the vacuums they had in childhood,” Tom says.
For many, the vacuum cleaner was their first encounter with an electrical appliance because their first chore was vacuuming the house. The nostalgia continues with each decade since 1900 represented in period exhibits decked out with replica homes. The exhibits at the Vacuum Cleaner Museum change frequently to accommodate special themes. A recent theme included art deco vacuums, including some that look like New York City’s Chrysler Building.
Tom’s favorite vacuum is the 1962 Rainbow, which his mother bought two weeks before he was born. He compares the chrome futuristic model to R2D2 from Star Wars.
Remember your childhood and find your own favorite model at the Vacuum Cleaner Museum and Factory Outlet.
See the contraptions used to suck up dirt before the modern-day vacuum was invented.
This story originally ran in the February 2013 issue of Missouri Life. For more stories like this, subscribe to Missouri Life.